The word of the gospel tells of the sacrifice and the work of atonement that are acceptable to God. Prophet Isaiah foretold of that perfect atonement sacrifice, Jesus Christ. Isaiah was also allowed to see a feast prepared on Mount Zion and the marriage feast of the Lamb. This vision of hope is still offered to believers in the word of God. We can also get a foretaste of heaven’s feast in the Lord’s Holy Supper.
Isaiah was called to be a prophet when King Uzziah died, about 740 years before the birth of our Redeemer. During Isaiah’s time the people did not want to be obedient to the will of God. “They have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.” (Isaiah 1:2–4).
To obey is better than sacrifice
Although the people were disobedient, they performed the required sacrificial rites. Their hearts were not in the sacrificial rites, and therefore God rebuked the people through Isaiah: “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord. I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts, and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.” (Isaiah 1: 11). God had already reminded King Saul of this during the time of Prophet Samuel: “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” (1 Sam. 15: 22).
Isaiah’s sermon of repentance
Prophet Isaiah looked at life in his time. He saw how people were forsaking the word of God. He understood that this would have consequences: forsaking of the word of God was visible as societal and national problems. The country was filled with rebellion among the princes and the people. The poor were oppressed. The governors acted contrary to the law which God had given to Moses. The nation became weaker while the surrounding powers grew stronger.
Even in that time, the sermon of God’s word was a sermon of the law and the gospel. Isaiah beseeched those who had fallen into sin to turn: “Wash you, make you clean; cease to do evil.” Even then, penitent ones were promised: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. – – If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 1:16–20).
God told Isaiah already beforehand that the people nevertheless would not listen to his sermon of repentance. They did not listen to Isaiah even though he spoke of captivity that would concern the entire nation and of destruction of the temple. He proclaimed that the situation would continue that way until the people perished, and only those who were obedient to God would be saved and would be able to return to their own land (Isaiah 6).
Isaiah looked at his own time, but he saw even further. He foretold of captivity from which the people were not allowed to return until the reign of Cyrus, king of Persia. He was also able to comfort the people with the coming of the Prince of Peace, the birth of the Messianic king. He saw as far as the dawn of the new covenant and its “sweet-smelling sacrifice” (Eph. 5:2), which was acceptable to God.
Isaiah foretold of this perfect sacrifice, Jesus Christ. By faith we are able to become partakers of His work of atonement. The word of the gospel tells of the sacrifice and the work of atonement that are acceptable to God. This word is proclaimed by the people of God yet today.
Feast on Mount Zion
Prophet Isaiah was able to see still further. He told of a feast on Mount Zion. This feast, described in chapter 25 of the Book of Isaiah, has been interpreted as an eschatological image. He was able to see to the end of time, to the marriage feast of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9).
The feast was a vision of hope for the people who had to suffer. This vision of hope is still offered to believers in the word of God. We can also get a foretaste of heaven’s feast in the Lord’s Holy Supper. These festive moments are meant for encouragement so that we would have the strength to travel all the way to the heavenly festivity.
Encouragement is needed, as the journey of the people of God in this time is also a journey of “abasement and shame”. One day “the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth.” (Isaiah 25:8).
With eyes of faith we can see far ahead to heaven’s feast. Regardless of the troubles of the journey, we can already now join in the words of the Book of Isaiah: “Lo this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us.” (Isaiah 25:9).
Text Tuomas Tölli
Translation K. K.
Published Siionin Lähetyslehti 1/2014
Tekstissä käsitellään seuraavia raamatunkohtia: Isaiah 25:6–9
Julkaistu englanninkielisessä kieliliiteessä 11/2014.
Raamatun mukaan jokainen Jumalan valtakunnan jäsen on avoin lähetyskirje omassa toimintaympäristössään (2. Kor. 3:2–3). Tämä asia voi olla kipupiste uskovaiselle ihmiselle, sillä henkilökohtaisesta uskosta puhumiselle on korkea kynnys nyky-yhteiskunnassa.